Andy spent the sunny afternoon of Father’s day clearing out the drains on our long driveway. As I worked alongside him It reminded me so clearly of the illustration I heard a few years ago in the Alpha Marriage course. They said that, in marriage, if we don’t deal with issues that annoy us, or we shove things under the carpet, what happens is these things build up and then get blown up out of proportion later.
Our drain is a lot like that: If Andy doesn’t clear out the accumulated leaves on a regular basis, when the heavy rains come (like this week!) the leaves block block the drains and cause a quagmire of mud all over our driveway and we have a major problem to deal with.
There are a few analogies we can draw from this:
Firstly, it’s far better to deal with issues when they are small. It still hurts but much better than allowing these issues to grow and intensify later.
Also, Andy clears the drains out on a nice calm day – and not when it’s raining.
Why is that? Cos it’s so much less of a chore on a nice day.
The same with resolving issues. Timing is everything. What ever you do, do not try to confront issues when you’re still angry, or upset. Do it when you’re feeling calm and have a ‘sunny’ disposition. The outcome is likely to be a lot more constructive.
So for example, the wrong time to confront your spouse about budget issues is not when you’ve just tried to reconcile your bank statement and you’re feeling stressed.
Much better to wait until those feelings of frustration have calmed a little.
And here’s a tip that has come out of Dr John Gottman’s marriage research:
the way you start a conflict usually determines how it will end. So start gently, and with a mindset that you want a good outcome. Don’t start when you’re angry, with the intention to win, or find fault. It won’t achieve anything positive.
In our house of 2 adults and 2 teenagers we have a fair bit of conflict. But we try to deal with things when they are little, rather than storing them up to intensify into a full-on argument.
Maybe try the same approach and hopefully you’ll avoid a build up of ‘verbal’ mud and debris.
Jump in Puddles
Congratulations to Andy and Nikki Bray! Recipients of the NZCN Unsung Hero Award 2013
…for all the work they do towards helping New Zealanders build better marriages and families.
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I think it’s so easy to go through married life, taking each other for granted. Andy and I spoke with a dear friend recently who lost his wife a few years ago. He was musing about how he would love her so differently, if he could. Listening to him I want to learn from his loss, and not miss out on the lesson in my own marriage.
Here’s some of what he shared:
He said, “I think back on all the emotion and time we both wasted having conflict over things that are meaningless. I would get “angry” with her and whine when she’d lock her keys in the car for the umpteenth time. Now I see that instead of an annoying waste of time, it was an opportunity to serve her and show her how much I loved her.
Dozens of stupid conflicts . . . when she’d dry a piece of clothing I told her not to, and now it fits my son instead of me. Big deal. Leaving the gas tank empty. Big deal. She’d occasionally leave the oven on all night. Big deal. I’d get mad at her over . . . nothing!
Almost all our conflicts (like leaving the lights on, missing the rubbish truck, leaving the gas tank empty) were almost always rooted in hurting my pride, making things harder for me, wasting my time. Ya, right, like how much time am I getting with her now?
Seriously, giving time and energy to all that kind of pettiness was just a freaking waste. I’d give anything to have those times back and just love her instead.
Secondly, I would concentrate on not taking her for granted. I would try to recognize as many of the “normal” things she did for me, acknowledge them, thank her for them, reward her more often for them. I’d end every phone call, email and text with “Love you” and mean it.
On the same line, I wouldn’t take life so much for granted either. We just don’t know how much time our wife has, ourchildren have, we have. I wouldn’t postpone special times, trips etc. because it was an inconvenient time, or would stretch me financially. I’d make a marriage and family “bucket list” and pursue it with Kathy whole heartedly. Sadly, I have time now, money now, but not Kathy.
Now that I’ve actually written this down and not just mused about them, I’m dreadfully saddened. I was such a fool.”
Wow. Amazing insights. Precious words. And a great lesson for us all to heed.
As for me, I’m going to try and lift my “love game”.
What about you?
Oh….one more thing….please pray for our friend Bob as he continues to do life without his precious Kathy.
Jump in Puddles